Age ten, in a huge screened cage,
hands protected by thick leather gloves,
I held a frightened chipmunk.
It squirmed. I squeezed
too tightly, then stuck it
into a pile of leaves
to hide its dead body
from the counselors. Discovered,
I was banned from the zoo. The shame
burned my cheeks. 

Age eleven, issued
two safety matches, a menu,
ingredients, a reflector oven,
I made empty #10 cans
into pots, skillets. Dressed in white,
I represented my cabin
in the “Chef’s Cap”
cooking contest, won
four years in a row.
        (Now it’s All-Clad on a natural gas flame, an infrared broiler.)
Almost sixteen, my final year,
I volunteered to be chaplain
on the “See America First” bus tour,
put together eight
non-denominational services,
dittoed prayers and passages
from the Prophets and familiar liturgy.
The campers, Jews, denounced
my efforts as too Jewish. Someone else
was assigned my duties, my blue-on-white copies
tinder for the campfire as we tented in Zion.
All summer I took 35mm color slides,
now like fossils caught in amber.
Winter Harvest: Jewish Writing in St. Louis 2006-2011, The Brodsky Library Press (2011), p. 54

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